“The Horse is Dead! Long Live the Horse!”

I finally broke the Ti-Ton-A-Tron, and here are the reasons why I’m not annoyed, for the first time!

– Nico from Egerie built the first steel frame to my spec last year with less than two weeks notice and less than €2000 (cheaper than every production DH frame out there). He said as it was such a strange shape and size he couldn’t offer any guarantee it wouldn’t break for what I wanted to do with it, but that he would fix it if there was a problem.

– The steel frame was going strong (and still is) and I was loving it (and still am!), the only problem with it to date has been a bent mech. But people kept making fun of me on the internet for having such a heavy and unrideable bike, which was confusing as I was riding better on this bike than I have in my whole life, and even as an old, slow, man, I was taking some KOM’s off the young pinner from the local bike park (Tomasso Francardo who came 7th at EDR Pietra). This un-rideability was getting to me, so I ordered the titanium V2 version with the Pinion mount with lighter tubing all around to save over 1kg compared to the V1.

– I knew going lighter would be a bad idea from the start, but thought I would try it anyway. I always try to test from the extremes, then work down to a sensible end-point.

– All the other bikes I’ve cracked in the last couple of years seemed to break without really riding them much or doing anything stupid. Most of those brands also have huge R+D budgets and pro-race teams testing them, plus they are putting out consumer products so should be extremely safe and reliable: Egerie is a bloke in his garage and this was a one-off with ZERO R+D financial input. This frame was also great value at €3700, I’m pretty sure there are no fully custom frames available in titanium for that price, and is much less than a Yeti, S-Works, Atherton etc

– I’ve been beating this bike to within an inch of its life: the hardest I have ridden a bike, ever, thanks to its shape I’ve really been able to start progressing my riding again at the age of 37. OK, maybe when I was 19 racing DH I was going harder, but the speed capability of the bikes, track speed, and access to elevation for me were much lower back then so much less stress on the bikes – and even then, around 18 years ago, everything would break.

– I’ve been testing shocks with 30-35% sag over the last three days in the bike park with continuous deliberate hucks to flat and smashing sections to get a feel for them. 26x days on the bike in total, 9x full bike park days of 4-5000m descending, shuttles in Finale, and then pedals at the local.

– Yesterday’s final run saw a big bottom-out impact (I finally felt the Novya shock hit rock bottom) and then I instantly felt a change in the frame feeling. Creaking started shortly after, which is noticeable on this deadly silent machine.

– I sent Nico a picture of the crack yesterday. No questions or excuses from him, his instant response was “ OK, seems like it will not be difficult to repair and improve.” Better than the response from some brands!

– I also assumed this was going to happen: nearly all bikes with downtube-mounted shocks crack due to the massive forces going into the middle of the downtube and causing the bending moment, and at the same time the main pivot is pulling in the opposite direction. The only way to prevent this really is through massive overbuilding or using a pre-tensioned bar like on the Nicolai Saturns used for 20 or so years.

– I made a pre-emptive strike knowing it would break eventually, I pick up the next V3 in a couple of weeks, that thing is going to be a whole different hype truck!

Thanks, Paul.

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